Staff Reporter

It is already offering substantial discount on the prevailing tariffs

KOCHI: The Cochin Port Trust (CPT) has said it will not be possible to further reduce service charges for Louis Cruise vessels operating out of the port for its international cruise services, launched in early December from here.

The CPT, in a statement here on Wednesday in the wake of reports that the Cyprus-based Louis Cruises was withdrawing its luxury cruise sails out of Kochi, said it was already offering substantial discount on the prevailing tariffs.

The CPT reiterated its commitment to boosting cruise tourism in the country. “The port had extended all possible assistance to the Louis cruises, including the allotment of a dedicated berth to the ship and walk in berthing/on demand sailing priority, considering the convenience of the passengers,” the statement said.

The statement said that Louis Cruises did approach the port for further reduction of tariffs and the port had agreed to look into their request.

At no time did the company indicate that it would withdraw operations.

The tariff rates applicable at CPT were determined by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP).

The port had been providing a discount of 33.33 per cent on the charges approved by TAMP, the statement said.

After providing these discounts, the maximum charges levied from the vessel had been $12,700 per voyage, out of which the largest component is based on actual expenditure.

“Thus, any further concessions to the vessel would actually result in the port making a financial loss,” it said.

Further, although the port had initially notified the operators that it intended to levy a passenger fee, this was not done and MV Aquamarine, the luxury liner being used for the services, was fully exempted from payment of the passenger fees.

The company was not charged for the usage of the dedicated passenger handling shed space either, the statement said. No contact could be made with officials at the Louis Cruises. The Louis Cruises group, based in Cyprus, was the first to launch international cruise services out of an Indian Port.

Luxury vessel MV Aquamarine was operating cruises to Maldives and Colombo.

The company had targeted the growing cruise business in India with more among the rich Indians taking to luxury ocean trips.

The launch of the cruise services out of Kochi was seen as the group’s attempt to expand its presence in the new markets.

The launch of the services was announced in September last year and a memorandum of understanding was signed between Louis Cruises and Kerala Tourism with the aim of marketing and promoting cruise tourism out of Kochi.